Disclaimer: The links provided below will take you to a website outside of LSCC. The instructor and the college are in no way responsible for the content of external websites. Neither is the instructor responsible for the content of the recommended material below. Much of the material is adult in content.
Note: These lists are a work in progress and are not comprehensive, so check back anytime for future updates.
History in the Movies: http://www.stfrancis.edu/content/historyinthemovies/index.htm
Tides of War, by Stephen Pressfield (Topic: Alcibiades and the Peloponnesian War)
Gates of Fire, by Stephen Pressfield (Topic: Thermopylae)
The Persian Boy, by Mary Renault (Topic: Alexander the Great's conquests)
Fire from Heaven, by Mary Renault (Topic: Alexander the Great's childhood)
The King Must Die, by Mary Renault (Topic: Theseus and early Athens)
The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault (Topic: Ancient Athens, Socrates, and more)
Creation, by Gore Vidal (Topic: 6th Century BCE religious explosion - Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, etc.)
I, Claudius, by Robert Graves (A brilliant fictional account of the first emperors of Rome, from Augustus to Claudius)
Claudius the God, by Robert Graves (a continuation of I, Claudius, with Claudius as Emperor)
American Civil War:
The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara (An intimate account of the 5 days leading up to, and including, the Battle of Gettysburg. Shaara treats both sides with compassion, and the book is a masterpiece.)
A Stillness at Appomattox, by Bruce Catton
American History (20th Century):
All the King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren (about 1930s Senator Huey Long, the "Kingfish" of Louisiana)
A Man For All Seasons: (1966) Henry VIII and his Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, disagree over the king's decision to create the Church of England and banish Catholicism from England. The film captures the agony this put England through, and illustrates the difficult political and social climate of the era.
The Lion in Winter: (1968) Her performance as the sublime Eleanor of Aquitaine earned Katherine Hepburn a Best Actress Oscar, and this film is a masterpiece. Based on the stage play of the same name, the film tells the story of the English King Henry II and his family at Christmas in 1054. Featuring Hepburn, Peter O'Toole as Henry II, Anthony Hopkins as Richard the Lionhearted, and Timothy Dalton as Philip Augustus, King of France. O'Toole is particularly magnificent in his role as the great king, chewing up scenery and bringing this era to life. Basically this is a vicious family drama, and it is utterly entertaining. The scene where Henry disowns his sons is one of the more memorable scenes I've ever seen.
The Name of the Rose:(1987) featuring Sean Connery and based on the Umberto Eco novel of the same name. (A medieval murder mystery set in a monastery.)
Gettysburg: (1993) Based on The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, this film captures the essence of the largest and bloodiest battle fought in the Western Hemisphere. A superb rendering of the most important battle of the American Civil War.
300: (2007) Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, this film depicts the Battle of Thermopylae. Although a bit stylized and flashy, the film captures the essence of the great battle, and is itself an example of the ever-evolving nature of Western culture. Warning: gratuitous fantasy violence.
Deadwood: (3 seasons - the first is the best) This HBO miniseries set a standard for historical accuracy, all the while remaining incredibly interesting and entertaining. Set in a western mining town, it features many aspects of Western life and culture discussed in my classes, from gold rushes to railroads to big business to the mythology of the west. Warning: graphic language and violence (put the kids to bed).
Rome: (2 seasons) This HBO miniseries brilliantly encapsulates the epic political and social struggles that marked the collapse of the Roman Republic. Focusing (of course) on Julius Caesar, it features a historically accurate set recreating ancient Rome that basically is a character unto itself. The show really makes the era and its vivid personalities come to life, and demonstrates not only the similarities between our world and then, but also some glaring differences (such as animal sacrifice). Warning: graphic sexuality and violence.